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What is at stake with Testing (Part 3 - Teachers)

teacher evaluation system that was established under Act 82 in 2012.   The stated purpose of the system, as evidenced by its name, is to improve Teacher Effectiveness.   How is this to be accomplished?  According to our lawmakers, it is done by explicitly connecting teacher performance ratings to student learning, as evidenced by standardized test results. As seen in the chart, up to 30% of a teacher's annual performance evaluation comes from students' PSSA test scores:  15% comes from the building-level results, and up to 15% comes from the teacher's own results if the teacher instructs in a tested subject area and grade. (Note that ~80% of teachers do not teach in tested subject areas and grades.) Under Act 82, a teacher is also evaluated on other dimensions, including classroom observations across four practice domains (50%), and student learning objectives (20%). This evaluation system can be critiqued on many dimensions (I will save that for a future post).  For the purposes of this discussion, let's accept the evaluation system as a given and assume that it is impartially administered, which I think is a reasonable assumption. An Uncertain Outcome? There are two ultimate performance ratings that a classroom teacher can receive:  satisfactory or unsatisfactory.  And it is critical to understand that only an unsatisfactory rating leads to differential consequences.    

source).   In other words, 998 out of every 1,000 classroom teachers received a satisfactory rating under this system.  Remember that this result includes a 15% to 30% weighting of PSSA results.

PSSA Teacher Stakes

Classroom Teacher Rating Form.)    So even if a teacher has failing PSSA result, they must also fail in almost all other dimensions to be rated 'unsat'.  (Whether this is a 'bug' or a 'feature' is up for debate.) In a school district like UCFSD, where building-level SPP results are exemplary  almost every year, it is even more difficult for a teacher to receive an "unsat" rating.  Mathematically, our teachers could receive "failing" ratings in PSSAs as well as 5 of 6 other dimensions, and still achieve a very-low-but-still-satisfactory rating:

Pay for Performance
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